Campus protest held in solidarity with Brazil

By Michael Grondin

“Change Brazil” was the chant of a crowd of roughly 200 people at the University of Calgary on June 18, 2013. The crowd marched in support of the current protests in Brazil.

On the same day, over 200,000 people took to the streets in Brazil in one of the largest protests the nation has seen in over 20 years. People in over 30 of Brazil’s cities are fighting to change poor public service and corruption. Two of the largest rallies were held in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

At the U of C, supporters marched around campus in an attempt to bring attention to the challenges the nation faces to students and members of the U of C community.

Brazilian born U of C biological sciences graduate Gedimar Barbosa said showing support for the people in his country who are taking action in the streets is important.

“We want to show people the problems our country is facing right now and also give support to the people that are on the streets fighting for better conditions in health, education and politics in Brazil — fighting for a better life,” said Barbosa.

At this time, Brazil is preparing for the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Barbosa said that Brazil is much more than a place for sporting events and parties, adding that the status quo of corruption, violence and poverty needs to come to an end.

“We are working to change and build a new country. Brazil is not just soccer or carnivals, it’s not just about the World Cup,” he said. “We are people, we are a nation, we are strong and we are going to make changes for us and for our children to live better lives.”

Biological sciences graduate Vaneska Grechinski attended the rally. She said it is important for everyone to support the protestors in Brazil by staging demonstrations of their own.

“Everybody is in the streets in Brazil in more than 30 cities and we are showing our support here from Canada,” said Grechinski. “We are showing that we are proud and that we are with them. Year after year after year, we have been quiet and it’s now time to wake up.”

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